Ipswich MP calls for lockdown restrictions to be lifted by end of April

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt has said he is concerned about the drop in number of children attending school P

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt has signed a letter by the Covid Recovery Group calling for all restrictions to be lifted by the end of April. - Credit: Archant

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt is one of 63 Conservative party members to sign a letter calling for Boris Johnson to lift all Covid restrictions by the end of April. 

The Covid Recovery Group (CRG) which penned the letter has piled pressure on the Prime Minister to commit to a timetable for lifting the current lockdown restrictions which are in place in the UK. 

It comes amid warnings from scientists advising the Government that lifting restrictions too quickly risks another wave of the disease as big as the current one.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has rejected calls from the lockdown-sceptic MPS to put a date on when England's lockdown measures will be eased, saying they will be "cautious".

Tom Hunt, Ipswich MP, was one of 63 conservative MPs who signed the letter, which he described as being a "helpful contribution" to the debate. 

He said: "The letter wasn't designed to be unhelpful; it was just stating a realistic timeline.

"I do not think reopening schools on March 8, when we have vaccinated everyone in the top four priority groups, is being radical or rash. I see that as being a measured and proportionate decision."

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The letter by the CRG states there will be no justification for Covid laws once the top nine priority groups have been vaccinated - which the Government is planning to have done by May.

By Easter, they say pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues should be able to open in a way that is Covid-secure but still allows them to operate “in a commercially viable manner”.

The CRG - which was formed in November to oppose a third lockdown and says it has the backing of 63 MPs - said the Prime Minister should set out a plan for "a return to normal life" from March 8.

"It's not calling for the easing of restrictions this month," explained Mr Hunt, when discussing the letter on BBC Radio Suffolk. 

"It is calling for schools to reopen on March 8 and by April 4 for hospitality to reopen in a very measured way. This is largely going to be outdoor dining, like al fresco situations.

"By the end of April when everyone in the five to nine categories will have been vaccinated, that's 99% of all of those who have died from the virus and 88% of all those who have been hospitalised at that point, the letter is calling for us to look at making strides towards getting back to normal. 

"I don't think that's an unreasonable timeline, I don't think that's a rash timeline and I make no apology for having wrestled with many of the decisions the government has made over the last year."

Mr Hunt said the vaccine gives us a "route to normality and some hope", while protecting the country's most vulnerable people, as he praised the vaccine rollout as it was confirmed that 15million people have received their first jab. 

He said restrictions have been necessary and that lockdowns have played key roles in restraining the virus and the number on infections. 

However, he said these restrictions are ultimately having a very negative effect on people's mental health and livelihoods. 

If these restrictions are to be in place beyond March 8, Mr Hunt said these decisions need to be "proportionate to the damage the restrictions are causing". 

Details of a 'roadmap' out of the lockdown are set to be announced by Boris Johnson on February 22. 

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